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BLONDIE IN SOCIETY (Columbia, 1941), directed by Frank R. Strayer, the ninth feature in the popular comedy series based on the Chic Young comic strip characters, ranks the very best of the entire 28 episodes. This series reached its peak here, and the leading players are at their funniest. At 78 minutes (the longest in the series), it plays fast and furious.
Dagwood Bumstead (Arthur Lake) gets himself a great dane named Chin-up to cover a $50 debt, and his wife, Blondie (Penny Singleton) helps out by entering Chin Up in a dog show. Everything goes wrong, of course. While the dog wins the contest, everyone who had disowned him, wants to reclaim him, a fight ensues, causing everyone, including the Bumstead child, Baby Dumpling (Larry Simms) and his neighbor friend, Alvin (Danny Mummert) to acquire black eyes.
Besides Dagwood running into the neighborhood postman (Irving Bacon) to catch his bus for work, other comedy highlights include Dagwood trying to take his Sunday bath, but never does due to constant interruptions, a gimmick used occasionally in the comic strips, but seen only once in this series. Penny Singleton shows off her singing ability by vocalizing "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" and "Trees." Veteran character actors Edgar Kennedy and William Frawley also add to the comic hi-jinx. For animal lovers, the Bumstead dog, Daisy, and Chin-up help provide some memorable highlights as well. And then there's Mr. Dithers (Jonathan Hale) as Dagwood's irritable boss, etc.
Available on video with the 1960s tag-on TV opening and closing credits with vocalists singing the "Blondie" theme song. Thankfully when it was shown on the American Movie Classics cable channel from 1996 to 2000, it was presented with its original opening and closing credits shown in theaters. While much of the 28 "Blondie" comedies are quite enjoyable, this one is definitely a winner. (***/2)
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